– March 29th, 2013 by Ella Tucan –

Changes to the printing quota questioned

Starting next fall the printing quota we’ve seen pop up on our screens might have a firm limit, meaning everyone who goes over 500 pages will have to pay. The change has not been announced yet, but it is very likely this is the direction we’re heading in. While the administration is still exploring their options and planning out specifics, students need to consider what this change will entail and what the college can do to minimize growing pains while we adapt to this new system.

Student reactions are far from reassuring. Junior Nursing major Alex Drost simply said, “Two votes for no,” while sophomore Sociology major Prashant Shrestha, taken completely by surprise, reacted with an emphatic, unequivocal, “Oh, that’s unfair!”

What the decision-making process is lacking is communication. Feedback and opinions like these should be taken into consideration, and the student body should be included in the process, since we are the ones who will be affected by the change.

Freshman Environmental Science major Sydney Hougrand says she understands and appreciates the benefits of the quota, but with the cost of tuition going up every year she feels the school “should provide the paper and ink necessary for us to complete our requirements; otherwise they’re cheating us out of our education.”

While these reactions can seem justified, especially since the student body is yet to hear about the change from school administrators or receive any explanation of the reasoning behind it, there are compelling reasons for considering the more economically and environmentally friendly option.

According to Director of Information Resources Ken Kochien, most students don’t generally exceed the printing limit. 80 percent of Colby-Sawyer students print less than 500 pages a semester and are actually subsidizing the printing of the other 20 percent. If this is the case, the vast majority of students would not be affected by the change.

Kochien also pointed out we are coming to this decision rather late, as other schools in the area—private universities like Dartmouth as well as public institutions like Plymouth State and the University of New Hampshire—have had limits on printing for years.

Colby-Sawyer has been considering the option of instituting a hard printing quota for a while. “It’s good for the parka book; it’s good for the environment,” Kochien said. The limit would definitely raise awareness on campus and promote sustainability.

And with some students using closer to 1,000 or even 2,000 pages, the question must be asked whether they are only printing what is necessary for their classes. Often, people don’t pay attention to what printer they are sending a document to, and when it doesn’t come out where they expected, they queue it up again and again, wasting paper.

However, many details still need to be worked out, and President Galligan is certain there will be exceptions to the rule. The administration plans to take into account students suffering from learning disabilities or hardship.

Senior students might face difficulties with their Capstone project, which now requires them to print out several drafts of lengthy papers throughout their final semester.

Most professors require hard copies of papers and reading assignments, and some required readings would force students to go over the printing limit. “We wouldn’t expect the faculty to change their requirements over night,” Kochien said, a courtesy not extended to students, who will have to change their printing habits.

Perhaps what we need is a stronger incentive to recycle, which benefits the environment without penalizing the students.

The difficulty of adapting to the change varies by major, and many in the Humanities and Social Science Departments feel they are being penalized for their choice of what to study. Junior Art History major Ligia Alfonzo said, “It depends on the major. My professors ask for too many things in hard copy and 500 pages doesn’t cut it. I had to print 150 pages just the first week.”

As of right now, printing double-sided still counts one sheet as two pages. Color printing counts double the page numbers. Administration hasn’t decided if this will remain the same.

It also hasn’t been announced what the price per page will be. Students pointed out that with the school buying paper and ink in bulk, charging us for every page might actually profit the school while we’re only completing our requirements “We pay so much money to go here,” freshman Julie Pitman said, “a piece of paper should be included.”

Ideally, a change in policy should lead to a change in requirements. If more professors are open to distributing and receiving materials electronically, students can stay within the designated limit neither professors nor students should be expected to spend their days staring at computer screens. There is a certain comfort that comes with reading a printed page that is lost online, and some students say they cannot focus or suffer from headaches if they read too much online.

The most sensible way to go about it would be to differentiate between majors, realizing that Biology, Exercise Science, or other exam-heavy programs do not have the same printing requirements as an English or History major.

“The sophisticated software required to take major into account would be too expensive,” Kochien said.

“We’re tipping our toes in the water and making this as painless as possible,” Kochien commented. Of course they are, especially by waiting to send a campus-wide announcement. What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

One Response to “Changes to the printing quota questioned”

  1. dulap says:

    Well done!
    Keep it up!

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